House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-KY) is calling on the University of Pennsylvania to provide information about anonymous Chinese donations to the university affiliated with the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement.
He wrote a letter to university President Liz Magill on Wednesday over concerns of foreign influence after the recent discovery of classified documents in President Joe Biden’s former office at the center, which is part of the Ivy League institution.
“The Committee on Oversight and Accountability is investigating President Biden’s possible illegal handling of sensitive, highly classified documents. Recent reports reveal President Biden’s attorneys discovered Obama-Biden Administration documents in an unsecured closet at the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement—a Washington, D.C.-based think tank affiliated with the University of Pennsylvania,” Comer wrote.
Comer blasted the president’s lax security over classified documents, arguing that the committee needs information on China’s donors to determine if there are national security threats.
“President Biden’s pattern of mishandling classified documents is alarming. The Committee is concerned about who had access to these documents given the Biden family’s financial connections to foreign actors and companies. The American people deserve to know whether the Chinese Communist Party, through Chinese companies, influenced potential Biden Administration policies with large, anonymous donations to UPenn and the Penn Biden Center,” he wrote.
In a press release, the Oversight Committee expressed concern that UPenn reportedly received millions of dollars in donations from anonymous Chinese sources. These donations allegedly tripled following the establishment of the Penn Biden Center, continuing as Biden explored a 2020 run for president.
“The Penn Biden Center appears to have acted as a foreign-sponsored source of income for much of a Biden Administration in-waiting,” Comer continued in the letter. “Between 2017 and 2019, UPenn paid President Biden more than $900,000, and the university employed at least 10 people at the Penn Biden Center who later became senior Biden administration officials.”
Comer argued that the evidence points to the need to determine who had access to the classified documents recently found in Biden’s former office at the university’s center in Washington, D.C.
“This level of access and opportunity raises questions about who had access to the classified documents found at the Penn Biden Center. It is imperative to understand whether any Biden family members or associates gained access to the classified documents while stored at the Penn Biden Center,” he added.
Connections between Penn Biden Center staff members and the Biden administration are also a concern. Secretary of State Antony Blinken served as the center’s director from 2017 to 2019 and received more than $79,000 in salary. The Washington Free Beacon cited at least two additional former center staff members who later received positions in the Biden administration, along with the university’s former president, Amy Gutmann, who was appointed as the U.S. Ambassador to Germany last year.
The Oversight Committee is not the only group seeking details on the connections between Biden and UPenn’s foreign donations.
The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) has also called for the university to disclose foreign contributions. NLPC filed a complaint against the university and the Biden Center in 2020 for failing to disclose the source of anonymous Chinese donations.
The watchdog group also recently filed Freedom of Information Act requests with the Department of Justice and National Archives to determine how classified documents ended up in Biden’s former office.